Anyone who thinks they are a tried and tested sauna person should have a go at a Russian banya.Russians might consider 100 degrees Celsius (212 Fahrenheit) a decent temperature, but it's incredibly hot and no walk in the park for the rest of us.
But be warned - in Russia if the name over the steam room says "SAUNA," then it's usually an erotic establishment which has nothing whatsoever in common with the classic, and utterly un-erotic, traditional banya.
Each banya has its own steam master or mistress, depending on which area you are in.
After two minutes I politely thank her and leave the steam room with remnants of leaves sticking to my back.
A little later in the shower room I encounter Tamara again. When I affirm she looks at me seriously and says: "We have to stay friends, Russians and Germans.
Our mistress is called Olga, and once she has finished preparing the steam room for us, she summons us by energetically ringing a bell in the banya's antechamber.
At this point all the women briskly walk into the bathroom, take a quick shower and then form an orderly queue in front of the steam room door.
Everyday life in Russia is not easy; Moscow is fascinating, but also loud and hectic.
A banya visit is a little like an excursion into real Russian life.
The water temperature here is 4 degrees, apparently.
But so far as my perception on entering the pool goes, water this cold would normally be frozen.
This head covering is made of felt, looks rather ridiculous, but is really effective, because it protects your head from the immense heat.